Billy Yazzie and the Skinwalker

My name is Billy Yazzie, I’m retired back on the rez, it’s an anagram of living for the breathing side of dead. I live beyond Sanostee in a dry wash dried by sun, sired by four clans of a mystery, for this tale they are unsung. In my life I’ve painted pictures on the sand that holds the soul, and I’ve sung a sacred journey for the heart that goes untold. Now the greatest of my interest is the sheep I’ve hunted for, this goes back before my singing, it’s what my life was given for. There are sheep they go a missing from a thief or a wolf pack, or sometimes they are stupid, and they can’t find their way on back. So it is I get my message on the Chapter House’s door, “Billy drive on to Rock Mesa, find our sheep we’re looking for.” It has been my greatest treasure to find that bleating sack of wool, and return him to his owner, and get my bill paid in full.

So it is there is some pyrite in this turquoise of my life, and this matrix will unravel, as my fate did one night. For unto me is stated by the four peaks of my light, that as soon as this tale is related, then my spirit can leave this life. So in circles drawn around me, drawn they there to just suffice, I begin this truthful fable, from a long night of my life.

It was the fourteenth day of December, when the open sky did close, and the snow poured down like water, and our land turned so cold. I was working on a healing way, with my big brother Jim, when the east door of my hogan opened to Grandma Blackhorse’s kid. The girl her face was frozen, and her mouth could barely move, but she cried, “our sheep our missing, Grandma ask that you come soon”. The little lambs had wandered near the canyon of the sky, and her Grandma sure would pay me, if I could find them that same night. So it was I left the small child wrapped in blankets with big Jim, and I saddled up Altsoba with my journey to begin.

1967, in the twelfth month of the year, came a behemoth from the old world in the sums of all our fears. For it was upon my pony as I tread in solid white, headed west of old Sanostee toward the canyon of the sky. The snow was drifting higher, and the howling darkness came, as I stopped to check on Grandma to tell her, those sheep are on their way. In a message from my elder in our native tongue so clear, she said, “watch out for the Chindi, but bring back my lambs so dear”. Oh, I wondered about her warning, as the snow piled up so high there were times in colder weather, I had to dismount, I could not ride. With my jacket pulled up higher, and my magnum 29, I began a call of hunting for two sheep of smaller size. I called them like their mother, with a tongue of proper rise, lilting sweeter than a springtime, inviting lambs to suppertime.

Once I thought I heard a bleating, once the wind it stood stock still, near the entrance to the canyon, with the arch sky walkers built. So I urged on Altsoba, with the tapping of my heel, and the wind, became much lighter, and the snow began to still. Then I saw the lambs of Grandma, standing right before the arch, and the sky upon them bright, and the walker dead of heart. It was Chindi of a bad man, it was ghost of past in real, and between us stood two yearlings, sacrifices, breathing still. So we stood there for a moment as the sky turned yellow, red, with this crystal world before us at the dawning of the dead. Then I heard its voice in passion, crying on a dyeing wind, and he said, “This sheep of ration, is for me for why I’m sent.” For it said, “I am a savior of the dyeing and the cost, and with me they sleep in paradise, till the blessing way is lost.”

So it was before my mother, open sky upon this man that I reached for my thunder and I loosed it in my hand. For six shots that spoke between us, for six shots that kill a man, when I looked upon the archway, there the witch still did stand. In some ancient sort of journey, on some other kind of storm, spoke my Father now before me, slay this monster within form. So as the Chindi, hovered, seeking ways to kill the lambs, it was a song of beauty, that, I sang before his hand. As it was that he did waver, turning whiter than the snow, then in singing songs of judgment, round my feet a circled glowed, and in bending form of beauty did I take my iron of war, and I drew the way of blessing of the earth that I adore. In the snow there were four mountains, that surround this holy land, and between them is a people who will not give up on their lambs.

The skinwalker begged of mercy, for it was not purified, but the blessing way of mercy, in its beauty would deny. In the balance of the arches, as the circle fire would die, I saw Chindi turn to ashes, and its badness said goodbye. In my arms the lambs of Grandma’s turned to look me in the eye, for it was my hunter’s treasure, to return them from this night. Then the sky turned dark with moisture as the snow returned to fall, and I headed for Grandma’s, in the beauty of it all.

My name is Billy Yazzie, I’m retired back on the rez, it’s an anagram of living for the breathing side of dead. – 11.23.2014 – דָּנִיֵּאל

6 thoughts on “Billy Yazzie and the Skinwalker

  1. I’ve read this several times now with days in between and each time I see and hear something that adds to the story. It’s like a wonderful riddle that is just within reach of solving. ‘ …an anagram of living for the breathing side of dead.’
    Inner writer in full flow, Daniel.


  2. Thanks Anne Marie, I kind of think of it as a riddle too. A lot of things happened in that great snow storm starting December 14th on the Navajo Rez, 51 Navajo’s lost there lives to the Chindi, and Billy saved a lot of sheep! I might have Billy make another appearance one of these days. I like his grit! 🙂


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